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Immediate release 21/12/23
Scottish benefit claimants have been reminded that most payments over Christmas and New Year are likely to hit bank accounts early, and they are urged to budget accordingly. Advice Direct Scotland, which runs the national advice service advice.scot, said households should plan for changes in payments over the festive holidays.
Both the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and Social Security Scotland have confirmed scheduled benefit payments slightly earlier than usual in December and January. This is because of bank holidays on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day and the additional bank holiday in Scotland on Tuesday, January 02.
Recipients of DWP-administered Universal Credit, State Pension, Pension Credit, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, Carer’s Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Income Support, and Jobseeker’s Allowance are reminded:
- Payments due on December 23, 24, 25, 26 or 27 should be paid on Friday, December 22.
- Payments due on December 28 should be paid on Wednesday, December 27.
- Payments due on December 30, 31, and January 1 or 2 should be paid on Friday, December 29.
Universal Credit claimants should also note that if their payment falls on Wednesday, December 27, or Tuesday, January 2, they will receive it on those dates as normal.
Those entitled to Social Security Scotland’s Adult Disability Payment, Child Disability Payment, Scottish Child Payment, and Carer Support Payment can expect the following schedule:
- Payments due on December 25, 26, and 27 should be paid Friday, December 22.
- Payments due on December 28 should be paid either December 22 or December 28.
- Payments due on December 29, 30, 33 and January 1 and 2, 2024, should be paid either December 28 or December 29.
- Payments due on January 3 should be paid either Friday, December 29 or January 3.
- Payments due on January 4 should be paid either Friday, December 29 or January 4.
- Payments due on January 5, 6, and 7 should be paid either January 3 or January 5.
- Payments due on January 8 should be paid either January 4 or January 8.
Best Start Foods payments are not affected by the festive period arrangements.
advice.scot provides free, practical advice and information on any topic, including access to benefits and whether households are claiming all the support they are entitled to. Additionally, the online benefits calculator provided by Advice Direct Scotland allows individuals to assess their entitlement to both devolved and reserved benefits.
During the festive period, the organisation will be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, and January 2.
However, it will operate normally at other times, with the charity emphasising the importance of reaching out at the earliest opportunity to discuss any concerns.
The team can be contacted on 0808 800 9060 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm), or through www.advice.scot.
Julie Murphy, Project Lead for advice.scot said:
“As we approach the Christmas and New Year holiday period, it’s important for people to be prepared for these changed dates and plan ahead to reduce stress. With the cost-of-living crisis, we know that many Scots are finding things extremely challenging when it comes to their household finances and will be concerned about when their payment will arrive.”
“Help is available for anyone who is worried or confused. At Advice Direct Scotland, we have a wide range of services available to everyone in Scotland at no cost, regardless of personal circumstance.”
Immediate release 08/12/23
Older Scots have been urged not to miss out on a £300 cost-of-living payment as a deadline looms.
Advice Direct Scotland, which runs the national advice service advice.scot, is reminding households that they have until Sunday, December 10, to apply for Pension Credit and receive the extra cost-of-living payment. This is because successful Pension Credit claims can be backdated for up to three months, as long as the applicant was also eligible to receive it during that time. Other benefits are also available to those on Pension Credit, such as assistance with housing and council tax costs.
Pension Credit is a form of financial support that ‘tops up’ the income of individuals above the State Pension age who fall below a minimum income threshold. On average, it can be worth up to £3,500 per year. However, recent figures show that as many as 880,000 eligible individuals across the UK might be missing out.
Advice Direct Scotland has urged people to check their eligibility with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Additionally, the online benefits calculator provided by Advice Direct Scotland allows individuals to assess their entitlement to both devolved and reserved benefits. The charity’s advisors can provide free advice on the support available and ensure that households are claiming all the benefits they are entitled to.
Conor Forbes, director of policy with Advice Direct Scotland, said:
“With the cost-of-living and energy crisis, it’s more important than ever that people who are struggling claim everything they’re entitled to. We would urge Scots to check their eligibility for Pension Credit and apply for support. Our free and unique online calculator tool is the only one tailored for Scotland and can ensure they are receiving all possible help. It’s important not to struggle alone. Our specialist advisors offer free, impartial, and practical advice on 0808 800 9060 or via advice.scot.”
Immediate release 28/11/23
Hundreds of households across Dumfries and Galloway have sought help with scams, faulty goods, and problems with local traders in the last year, according to new figures. Advice Direct Scotland, which runs the national consumer advice service consumeradvice.scot, recorded more than 1,300 complaints in the region in the 12 months to October.
Across the country there were a total of 42,953 complaints, as the cost-of-living crisis squeezed family budgets, with Dumfries and Galloway ranked tenth in Scotland for the number of disputes and inquiries over lost money and breached consumer rights.
In the past year, the charity dealt with 1,300 complaints and 140 inquiries from consumers in Dumfries and Galloway, recording 370 formal grievances against companies. Advice Direct Scotland’s advisors also received 25 complaints from businesses in the region.
- Vehicles were the most frequently complained of issue, comprising almost a quarter (23 per cent) of all cases.
- Home maintenance and improvements followed as the next most common issue, accounting for 14 per cent of the reported cases.
- Problems related to other products, and energy and heating, each accounted for 6 per cent, while glazing accounted for 5 per cent.
- There were 30 cases related to fraud, problems also included used and new cars, building and roofing work, and glazing issues.
Problems with a purchase
Experts from the service recently helped a grandmother from near Lockerbie secure a £94 refund for a defective watch purchased online for her husband.
The 77-year-old woman from the Lockerbie area sought help from Advice Direct Scotland after experiencing problems with a self-winding watch bought online as a present for her husband’s 76th birthday.
Despite having sent the watch back twice, it still wasn’t working, leading the grandmother-of-four to request a refund.
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, she was entitled to a repair or a replacement under the short-term right to reject.
Since these attempts were unsuccessful, she exercised the final right to reject, entitling her to a refund or a price reduction and after being informed of her rights and using a template letter provided, she secured a refund of £94.
The grandmother from near Lockerbie, who wishes to remain anonymous, said:
“It was really disappointing that the watch wasn’t working properly as it didn’t keep time very well, especially as it was a birthday present.
“I’d already sent it back once, and then again, and the retailer said they’d had it checked by the manufacturer and couldn’t find anything wrong.
“That’s when I decided to contact Advice Direct Scotland, and the help I received was really useful – especially when it can be so difficult to speak in person to an organisation these days.
“I was able to adapt the letter they provided, and the matter was settled within a couple of hours.
Make Informed Choices
Advice Direct Scotland is encouraging the public to make informed spending choices and remain vigilant against scams, citing tips like using a credit card for purchases over £100, as it will be protected under the Consumer Credit Act.
Goods should also meet satisfactory quality standards with no faults or damage, and they should be durable.
Conor Forbes, Director of Policy with Advice Direct Scotland, said:
“The cost-of-living crisis has had a concerning impact on Scottish consumers, making it more important than ever for them to be aware of their rights and know what to do if things go wrong.
“We have witnessed significant demand from individuals across Dumfries and Galloway seeking assistance for various issues.
“People are understandably more anxious about ensuring they receive the refunds, repairs, or replacements they are entitled to.
“Unfortunately, we also know that scammers adapt their tactics to take advantage of the challenging circumstances facing many families in Dumfries and Galloway.
Immediate release 23/11/23
Scottish shoppers have been urged to be on their guard against scams as Black Friday and Cyber Monday approach.
Advice Direct Scotland, which runs the national consumer advice service consumeradvice.scot, has encouraged consumers to stay safe while shopping online and remain cautious of fake deals.
The charity said fraudsters are increasingly using new tactics to target struggling Scots seeking bargains amid the cost-of-living crisis. Most retailers are already running a series of offers, with many consumers planning to shop online over the coming weekend.
Scammers exploit shoppers’ vulnerability and distraction, especially during timed Black Friday sales, using urgency to pressure victims into parting with money, bank details or personal information.
Consumers are urged to stay cautious of fake deals presented through phishing emails, texts, and social media adverts. Another tactic involves bogus websites impersonating legitimate ones, accepting payment but failing to deliver goods. Criminals also employ methods such as selling counterfeit and empty gift cards and creating fake order confirmation pages.
Advice Direct Scotland has issued key tips for online shoppers, including:
- Research the online retailer before buying. Ensure that it is legitimate, with a secure website, a valid UK address, returns policy, and terms and conditions.
- Use a credit card if possible. It may be easier to get your money back if something goes wrong. If you don’t have a credit card, online services like PayPal can protect your bank details.
- Check the returns policy. Retailers have different policies on returning unwanted goods, but you have the right to return most goods purchased online within 14 days on receipt of delivery, for a full refund.
- Be savvy. If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Scots have also been encouraged to avoid impulse buying and check they are getting value for money by comparing prices of items available elsewhere.
Paul Hansen, consumer lead for Advice Direct Scotland, said:www.consumeradvice.scot.”“With the cost-of-living crisis having a worrying impact on households across Scotland, it’s understandable that people will be looking for Black Friday and Cyber Monday bargains. “However, fraudsters are always on the lookout for opportunities to deceive, especially taking advantage of shoppers feeling rushed to secure Christmas gifts, making them vulnerable to dodgy traders and online scammers. “It’s crucial for shoppers to check who they are buying from and ensure that their purchases are safe, providing value for money. “Be savvy, slow down, and do your research. If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. “Realising that you may have been the victim of a fraud can be extremely upsetting and worrying, but remember there is no shame in being scammed. “The most effective way to stop scammers in their tracks is to report a scam to scamwatch.scot when you see one. “Consumers who are concerned or need help should contact one of our specialist consumer advisers for free, impartial, and practical advice on 0808 164 6000 or
Immediate release 23/11/23
In his Autumn Statement, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced plans to cut the main rate of National Insurance from 12 per cent to 10 per cent, effective from January 6.
He also abolished Class 2 National Insurance payments for the self-employed, starting in April, while Universal Credit will be increased by 6.7 per cent in the same month.
Conor Forbes, Director of Policy for Advice Direct Scotland, said:“Given the current challenges facing many households, any extra funds, will be welcomed by those struggling with different financial pressures.
“Changes to National Insurance will see workers and the self-employed taking home more of their pay, and next month’s Scottish budget could have an impact as well.
“However, the cost-of-living and energy crisis are far from over. It is understandable that there is considerable concern from families who are anxious about their bills.
“At this difficult time for many, it’s important to remember that free advice is available and you don’t have to struggle alone.
“Our advisers at www.advice.scot are working hard to provide free, practical advice to anyone in Scotland.
“Our specialist debt advisers at www.moneyadvice.scot can help if you have personal financial worries, are struggling with debt, or need a way of getting back on track.
“And our www.energyadvice.scot team can support people with concerns about energy bills.”
Immediate release 22/11/23
Scottish households facing an increase in energy bills have been urged to seek support after Ofgem raised the price cap.The energy regulator today announced that average bills will rise by £94 from January 1, meaning a typical household will pay £1,928 per year.
This comes just over a week after Ofgem launched a review into standing charges for gas and electricity, which have risen by up to 60 per cent in two years, with further increases expected in April.
The charity warned of an “incredibly tough” winter ahead, with many Scots already struggling with household bills amid the cost-of-living crisis. Advice Direct Scotland also stressed the importance of people ensuring they are claiming all benefits they are entitled to.
Its free online calculator, available at advice.scot, is tailored for Scotland and allows people to check their entitlement to both reserved and devolved benefits.
Hazel Knowles, energy lead for Advice Direct Scotland, said:“Energy price rises at the coldest time of the year will alarm many people grappling with household bills.
“Costs are already hundreds of pounds higher than pre-pandemic levels, pushing people into debt and having to make difficult decisions about spending on even essential items. “Given the challenging situation for many, it’s shaping up to be an incredibly tough winter.
“We urge people across Scotland not to struggle alone – our expert advisers can provide free advice on the support available and ensure that households are claiming all the benefits they are entitled to.
“With an upcoming hike in electricity standing charges from April, Ofgem’s review could benefit some of the most vulnerable consumers. “Energy affordability also needs a long-term solution, and we support calls for a social tariff to protect people from spending excessive amounts on their bills.”
Immediate release 14/11/23
An energy price cap increase is to be announced next week, amid warnings that households across Scotland will see bills rise from the start of January with Cornwall Insight forecasting that a typical annual household bill will go from £1,834 to £1,931 in the new year, before falling slightly in April.
Advice Direct Scotland, the country’s national advice service, runs energyadvice.scot which provides free, impartial and practical advice on energy bills for anyone in Scotland. Advisers, who can also provide information on sources of support, are available on freephone 0808 196 8660, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, and further details can be found at www.energyadvice.scot.
Hazel Knowles, energy lead for Advice Direct Scotland, said:
“We have already witnessed high demand from households across Scotland seeking assistance with their energy bills.
“Costs are significantly higher than they were before the energy crisis began, and this latest warning ahead of next week’s announcement means that many Scots face a challenging winter ahead.
“We urge people across Scotland not to struggle alone – our expert advisers can provide free advice on the support available.
“Energy affordability also needs a long-term solution, and we support calls for a social tariff to protect people from spending excessive amounts on their bills.”